Tongue tech can help disabled

Janet Babin Aug 26, 2008
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Tongue tech can help disabled

Janet Babin Aug 26, 2008
HTML EMBED:
COPY

TEXT OF STORY

Stacey Vanek-Smith: Spinal cord injuries can rob people of the ability to move and speak. Technology does exist to help the disabled, but it’s got limitations. Now scientists have a new system that uses the tongue. From North Carolina Public Radio, Janet Babin has more.


Janet Babin: Swish your tongue around your mouth for a second. It’s a pretty flexible muscle. And it’s directly connected to your brain through a cranial nerve. So it’s not usually hurt during a spinal cord injury.

Georgia Tech researchers say that’s why it’s the basis of their new communication system. The tongue gets pierced with a tiny magnetic tracer. Sensors then pick up tongue movements, send a signal to a laptop and, presto, you’ve turned your tongue into a computer joystick.

Georgia Tech Professor Maysam Ghovanloo says the tongue can control all sorts of objects for the disabled:

Maysam Ghovanloo: They can drive their wheelchair by just moving their tongue — turn many other applications such as turning the light on and off, a phone, a powered bed, a TV, anything you can think of.

Start-up funding came from foundations, but Ghovanloo says he’s just received offers from private companies interested in licensing the technology.

I’m Janet Babin for Marketplace.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.